Philosophy of Chabad

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Philosophy of Chabad

Post  Pastor on Fri 28 Nov 2008, 6:11 pm

The founder of the Chabad philosophy, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, developed an intellectual system and approach to Judaism intended to answer criticisms of Hasidism as anti-intellectual. Through an approach based partly on Kabbalah, Chabad philosopy methodizes an understanding of God.

Chabad philosophy incorporates the teachings of Kabbalah as a means to deal with one's daily life and psyche. It teaches that every aspect of the world exists only through the intervention of God. Through an intellectual approach and meditations, Chabad teaches that one can attain complete control over one's inclinations.

In a break with early Hasidism, Chabad philosophy emphasises mind over emotions.

"Chabad"
According to Tanya the intellect consists of three interconnected processes: Chochma (wisdom), Bina (understanding), and Da'at (knowledge). While other branches of Hasidism focused primarily on the idea that "God desires the heart," Rabbi Shneur Zalman argued that God also desires the mind, and that without the mind the heart was useless. With the Chabad philosophy he elevated the mind above the heart, arguing that "...understanding is the mother of...fear and love of God. These are born of knowledge and profound contemplation of the greatness of God."

According to Jonathan Sacks, in Rabbi Shneur Zalman's system Chochma represents "the creation in its earliest potentiality; the idea of a finite world as was first born in the divine mind. Binah is the idea conceived in its details, the result of contemplation. Da'at is, as it were, the commitment to creation, the stage at which the idea becomes an active intention." While in Kabbala there are clearly delineated levels of holiness, in Chabad philosophy these are grounded in the mundanities of peoples inner lives. So in reality - according to the Chabad analogy - Chochma is the birth of an idea in the mind, Binah is the contemplation, and Da'at is the beginning of the actualisation of an idea. Sacks argues that this provided a psychological formulation that enabled the hasid to substantiate his mystical thoughts. "This was an important advance because bridging the gap between spiritual insight and daily behaviour had always been a problem for Jewish mysticism."

Chabad philosophy argues that man is neither static nor passive nor dependent on others to connect to God. Shneur Zalman rejected all ideas of aristocratic birth and elitism - he argued for meritocracy where all were capable of growth, every Jew - in his view - was capable of becoming a Tzaddik.

Chabad can be contrasted with the Chagat (Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet) school of Hasidism. While all Hasidim have a certain focus on the emotions, Chagat saw emotions as a reaction to physical stimuli, such as dancing singing or beauty. Shneur Zalman, on the other hand, taught that the emotions must be led by the mind, and thus the focus of Chabad thought was to be Torah study and prayer rather than esotericism and song. As a Talmudist, Shneur Zalman endeavored to place Kabbalah and Hasidism on a rational basis. In his seminal work, Tanya, he defines his approach as "מוח שליט על הלב" ("the brain ruling the heart").

Tanya

Tanya, Shneur Zalman's moral magnum opus, is the first schematic treatment of Hasidic moral philosophy and its metaphysical foundations. The original name of the first book is Sefer Shel Beinonim, the "Book of the Intermediates." It is also known as Likutei Amarim--"Collected Sayings." Sefer Shel Beinonim analyzes the inner struggle of the individual and the path to resolution. The philosophy is based on the notion that man himself is not evil; rather, every individual has an inner conflict that is characterized with two different inclinations, the good and the bad.

Some have argued that Shneur Zalman's moderation and synthesis saved Hasidism from becoming a Jewish breakaway movement, keeping it within the fold. Avrum Erlich writes: "Shneur Zalman was instrumental in the preservation of Hasidism within mainstream Judaism. It allowed for some of the mystically inclined Hasidim to reacquaint themselves with traditional scholarship and the significance of strict halakhic observance and behavior, concerning which other Hasidic schools were sometimes less exacting. Shneur Zalman also provided the opportunity for traditionalists and scholars to access the Hasidic mood and its spiritual integrity without betraying their traditional scholarly allegiances."

Torah study

Shneur Zalman fought against the perception that was prevalent in the early years of Hasidism that the movement neglected Talmudic study by focusing too heavily on mysticism and obscurantism. He emphasized that mysticism without Talmudic study was worthless - even dangerous. Without Talmudic study, he argued, the mind could never be elevated - and if the mind is not elevated, the soul will starve. On the other hand, he argued that while Torah was to be the focus of all study, it was also important to integrate the Torah's teachings into one's life. In a letter to Rabbi Joshua Zeitin of Shklow, Shneur Zalman wrote: "The Hasidim, too, set aside time for study. The difference between them and the Misnagdim is this: the latter set time for study and they are limited by time, whereas the former make the Torah their path of life."

Shneur Zalman taught that Torah must be studied joyously - studying without joy is frowned upon. He provided a metaphor: when a mitzvah is fulfilled an angel is created. But if the mitzvah was joyless then the angel too will be dispirited. Thus, while Shneur Zalman emphasized that Hasidism focus on traditional Jewish scholarship rather than on mysticism, he was emphatic that this must be done with the zeal and joy.

Role of a Rebbe

In its earlier formulations, Hasidic thought elevated the Rebbe (Hasidic leader, in this context) to a level above that of typical person. A rebbe was closer to God, his prayers were more amenable to Him, and a Hasid should satisfy himself with attachment to the rebbe and hence indirectly to God. A rebbe was to be a living example of perfection and would concern himself with intellectualism on behalf of the followers. According to Sacks, Chabad stressed the individual responsibilities of every Jew: "The rebbe...became more of a teacher and adviser, recognising the vocation of each of his followers, guiding them towards it, uncovering their strengths, and rejoicing in their achievements." Shneur Zalman focused on training his followers to become spiritually self-sufficient and to turn to their respective rebbes for instructions rather than intercession with God, miracles or blessings, though he did not teach that a rebbe does not possess the same powers as taught in other groups.

Role of a Hasid

Hasidism traditionally demanded that every Hasid personally participate in the dissemination of Torah and Judaism to one's surroundings and seek out the benefit of one's fellow Jew. Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneersohn said: A Hasid is he who surrenders himself for the benefit of another. Beyond this, Chabad demands pnimiyut (inwardness): one should not act superficially, as a mere act of faith, but rather with inner conviction.

Bringing the Messiah

Schneerson became infused with a drive to "accelerate the coming of the Messiah". With increasing frequency over four decades, he repeated that the Messiah's arrival was imminent. He instructed his followers to become active in kiruv - with the aim of educating non-orthodox Jews about orthodox Jewish practices. This approach to outreach became known as Ufaratzta (from Genesis 28:14), a Hebrew word meaning "you shall spread out" to implore his followers to bring the messianic times closer by spreading Jewish observance.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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Re: Philosophy of Chabad

Post  FaithfulSon on Sat 29 Nov 2008, 7:10 am

Impressive information about Chabad Hadistic philosophy. Although as a Christian, I do not believe in the philosophy but it is quite impressive how they put mind and heart into practice to seek spirituality.

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Re: Philosophy of Chabad

Post  ChristianLady on Sat 29 Nov 2008, 7:31 am

Picture taken from: TheRebbe.org

The Lubavitcher Rebbe declared himself as long awaited Messiah

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